So on Tuesday I posted a blog about peer groups, and also emailed it out to my newsgroup.
I got about fifteen messages back and the responses were quite polarised.
You can read the original blog HERE but in short, the message of the piece was that we are heavily influenced by those around us and sometimes it makes sense to move away from existing peer groups into new peer groups where you will be more inspired and challenged.
Here are some of the responses I received (slightly edited to either maintain anonymity or for brevity). It’s clear that the post hit some raw nerves.
- ‘This is one of the best and most uplifting emails I’ve read in a long time. Thank you.’
- ‘I really needed a Chris Jones pep talk today! Thank you!’
- ‘Wow, I like this!’
- ‘Very good email’
- ‘Don’t email me again with this bullshit. Ever.’
- Thank you! You are doing a great job.
- ‘Never contact me again’
- ‘this last email of yours rings true…’
- ‘Don´t get me wrong, I wish you all the best. But good luck with your new friends when you get seriously ill, in personal or financial trouble. I hope for you that they wont decide then that you are holding them back.’
- ‘Your experience is so real to me it could have been me you described.’
- ‘I find this vaguely offensive. I don’t know you and you don’t know me.’
- ‘Loved your positive email yesterday! Thank you.’
I reached out to all but one of the people who felt upset by the article and one has since responded back having changed their views. The others did not respond.
So what to make of this?
All these responses are filtered through the beliefs of the writers.
By that I mean they have a pre-existing belief that the message I sent out either chimed in with, or contradicted.
For some the message amplified a belief that was very dominant in their lives right now. Perhaps ‘My family does not understand me’ or ‘my friends are wasting their lives and I want to do something with mine’.
For others the clash with their belief was so significant that they felt the need to send emails to tell me I was wrong, that I should never contact them again. Perhaps their beliefs were ‘one of my friends is doing really well right now, and I am as good as they are, it should be me too’ or ‘I don’t want to lose my friend to success as they will leave me’.
One person wrote ‘I find this vaguely offensive. I don’t know you and you don’t know me.’ This person believed I was rude. Yet others clearly believed otherwise.
Here is the problem. We think our beliefs are facts.
And we are all driven by beliefs. ‘People are generally good’, ‘don’t trust people’, ‘I can’t do it’ ‘I can do it’…
We filter every experience in our lives through our beliefs, looking for agreement or disagreement.
It’s usually easy to hear this analysis, it’s the little voice in your head. ‘What little voice’ you say, ‘I don’t have one…?’ Yes you do, it’s the little voice that just told you that you don’t have a little voice. That little voice constantly asses everything and filters information through our beliefs.
So what is a belief?
A belief is a strong feeling that something is true. It’s not religious (though it can be of course)
Crucially, beliefs are not facts, they are opinions.
And once we lock in on a belief, we begin collecting evidence that we are right.
Have you ever been in argument and sought the opinion of another person to back you up? That’s just you collecting evidence that your belief is the right one and theirs is wrong.
And human beings will go to extraordinary lengths to be right. Check out Facebook for beliefs running amok.
Filmmakers and Writers Disempowering beliefs
Here are a smattering of common disempowering beliefs I hear routinely from filmmakers and writers.
I have also sinned myself and uttered most of them at one time or another.
- My work deserves to be seen
- There is no money out there for funding films like mine
- All the wrong films get financed
- Distributors are only interested in American films
- My script is amazing and will make an incredible film, it does not need any more work nor anyone else’s input
- Why are people so rude?
- I have done everything I could possibly do to get financed
- If only I could get the script to XXXX actor, but the agent won’t help
- You don’t know how hard it is for me because I am XXXXX
- People who do not respond to my emails are not interested or rude
Notice how each of these beliefs closes down a possibility by stating something in a ‘I tried and it’s impossible’ kind of way. It’s an absolute. No wiggle room.
Notice how most of these statements also shift blame to others or external forces.
So this statement… ‘I have done everything I could possibly do to get financed’
What this statement is probably saying is ‘I tried seven things and none worked and I am not prepared to try any more, so I have given up on it’. That’s usually closer to the truth right? It’s easy to see this in others, but humbling to acknowledge in oneself.
We fail, and then we blame others or external forces for our failures. And by the way, failure is an ESSENTIAL component of success.
And if you have the courage to read it, I posted a correspondence between a writer and an exec a few months back – see if you can see the diss-empowering beliefs in the words of the writer HERE.
So the big question for all of us is this…
Do our beliefs empower or disempower our lives and possibilities?
Many of us did not design our beliefs, they were shaped by our parents, families, teachers, peers, work colleagues, media…
And yet we live our lives by these beliefs.
In the responses I received above, can you hear the beliefs behind some of the words?
And do the beliefs of the writers above empower or disempower their lives and possibilities?
Take a step back from your own life. Then consider should, or could you re-design YOUR beliefs instead of just inheriting the ones given to you by others?
And then maybe, design and choose new beliefs that empower, and not ones that feed into fear and disempower.
If you believe you can climb Everest, you can. If you don’t believe you can climb Everest, most likely can’t and won’t.
We receive what we perceive.
So don’t just accept your inherited beliefs as fact.
Have courage and challenge your beliefs. In this moment you may well end up challenging the beliefs of those around you too. The beliefs of your peers. And then you will quickly find out if your peers empower you or diss-empower you.
Choose your beliefs.
Design your beliefs.
See you at the Oscars!
Onwards and upwards!